Lawmakers with dirty hands

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Lawmakers with dirty hands

 The Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission announced Monday that 12 lawmakers from the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) are suspected of irregular real estate dealings. The commission reached its conclusion after looking into real estate deals of PPP legislators and their families over the past seven years. One case involves the purchase of an apartment under another person’s name. Two cases are of alleged tax evasion, four involve alleged violation of construction laws, and six involve alleged agricultural law violations. The commission said that Rep. Kim Eui-kyeom, a lawmaker from the minor opposition Open Minjoo Party, an ally of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), is also suspected of taking advantage of information acquired in his position to strike a real estate deal.

Earlier, the commission found 12 DP lawmakers had engaged in illegal real estate deals. The latest finding shows there is no difference between the two major parties on the issue of trying to make a buck on real estate, the less legal the better. After lawmakers from the DP were suspected of unlawful property deals after the Korea Land and Housing Corporation (LH) scandal in March, the PPP denounced the DP. It turns out the PPP was no cleaner.

The commission notified the PPP of the results of its probe rather than informing each lawmaker. In the case of the DP, it made public the names of its lawmakers under suspicion only a day after the party was notified of the investigation results, and demanded all leave the party even though illegalities were not confirmed by a court. The two opposition parties also must do the same given the public outrage over lawmakers’ shameful acts.

Shortly after being elected head of the PPP in June, Lee Jun-seok vowed to apply stricter standards to PPP lawmakers than the DP, and recently reconfirmed that position. But some members of the PPP are refusing to accept the results of the probe by the commission, and raising doubts over its accuracy. If the PPP lets them off the hook, it will face criticism from the public.

At the same time, the police should try to find the truth behind the lawmakers’ suspicious real estate deals because a DP lawmaker was cleared of charges against him after a police investigation. The DP already ousted two lawmakers before the results of a police investigations arrived.

The National Assembly must establish a system that can prevent lawmakers from getting involved in shady real estate deals. Their double standards on real estate are nothing new. It is time for political parties to present fundamental solutions, including the introduction of a blind trust system ahead of the presidential election on March 9.
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